Two years ago, Usman Noorzai was standing in his village of Shade Bara when he heard a rumbling sound.
“We looked up, and saw tremendous flood waters coming down from the mountains. We were fixated with fear.”
Shade Bara is particularly at risk of flooding. It lies at the bottom of a floodplain in the Injil district of Herat, and is bounded by mountains on one side, and a river on the other.
Ezatulah, a community elder, also remembers the floods.
“All my sheep were killed. We just ran to hide and recited the Holy Quran. We knew only God could save us and we had to pray for mercy.”
Haji Dilbar, another villager, says,
“Before long, we were up to our waists in muddy water. We saw our possessions float away, but there was nothing we could do to stop them. In a moment we lost everything.”
Flood waters are among the most destructive of natural hazards; they can rise with incredible rapidity, and be a serious risk to life, as well as causing immense damage to property, crops, and livelihoods. Shade Bara’s situation makes it prone to flooding from October to April, when rain is most frequent. This is a big problem for the 700 families that live in the village and a thousand in neighbor villages.
To address the problem, UNDP’s Climate Change Adaptation Project, together with the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock constructed a 1120-meter protection wall to protect 40 hectares of land and property from heavy flooding.
Jalaluddin, a village council member, says the protection wall has made a huge difference.
“Before, we lost ten tons of wheat each year. Endless losses. Now, every villager is hopeful.”
Dilbar, who lost around 250,000 Afghanis in livestock and agricultural income due to last year’s flooding, said, “This is a big improvement! I'm very happy and hopeful for the future.”
Maintaining the protection wall in the future is also vitally important. The community and the council have appointed a villager as a focal point to look after the project and inform the authority in case of issues.
UNDP’s Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), is funded by the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). It started in 2014 and will run through to 2019. Together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), UNDP implemented more than 100 livelihoods projects, including building greenhouses and training farmers on how to process and store food, as well as to protect 800 hectares of land from flooding. The project improved irrigation for 500 hectares of agricultural land and helped communities repair 30 canals.
As of now, 800 women & 150 men understand climate-resilient farming and alternative livelihoods. Around 15 women self-help groups are engaged in sustainably profitable livelihoods and 150 farmers benefitted from increased livestock production through rehabilitation of 400 hectares of degraded rangeland.
Furthermore, UNDP environment projects are helping people adapt and finding jobs in the face of climate change, bringing clean power to rural areas, preparing for natural disasters, establishing and protecting national parks, and conserving biodiversity for future generations.